I started working for Jim more than 43 years ago, beginning at ARL, before he was Dr. T. He’s the only boss I’ve had, and I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor and role model. We made our careers at National Instruments, and it worked better than I ever dreamed it would.
Even today, Dr. T’s enthusiasm and optimism still motivate and inspire me.
I have always been impressed by his strong sense of fairness and personal integrity. He has an innate understanding of human nature, and nature in general, having grown up on farm.
Jim acquired his business expertise by observing other businesses and business leaders, and by reading hundreds of books. No one had a monopoly on good ideas so he compiled bits of wisdom from many books, and even the occasional fortune cookie. Gathered into a set of slides we still use today, they establish the company’s core values and perspectives, which are the foundation of our corporate culture.
Ever since we began, he has always emphasized the importance of a long term perspective. When we went public he reinforced it by creating our 100-year plan.
In the very early days, he said to me “if our customers aren’t successful, we won’t be successful”. It was obvious on reflection, but also profound.
That maxim on customer success was the genesis of our model for support and customer engagement. It led to phenomenal customer loyalty, and lots of repeat business.
We have a noble vision and mission: making scientists and engineers more productive, so they can invent and discover faster, all for the benefit of society. It’s grand and honorable, something we can all be inspired by. And we can celebrate, and be proud of, our customers’ accomplishments.
I’ve always been impressed by Jim’s uncanny ability to sense problems and opportunities in the market. Not just regular me-too opportunities, but game- changing opportunities, where we get to rewrite the rules.
I think the best example is LabVIEW, which would not have happened without Dr. T. He sensed the market need, and that it was the right time to expand the scope of our business.
Without his evangelism, inside and outside the company, and without his perseverance, LabVIEW wouldn’t have been a success in the market.
Dr. T steps away from day to day operations at the end of the year, but he will continue to influence corporate strategy through his role as chairman of the board.
I’m enthusiastic about reaching this milestone, and optimistic about the future.
The company is on a great path, and our mission and vision can guide us well into the future.